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Michigan lawmakers want mass transit between Grand Rapids, Detroit, Ann Arbor

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(The Center Square) – Michigan Democratic lawmakers want mass transit between Grand Rapids, Detroit and Ann Arbor but don’t know how to pay for it.

Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, majority caucus chair & Education Committee chair, posted on social media that mass transit would prevent young people from leaving the state.

“In order to try to keep our young people in Michigan, we have to get serious about some sort of mass transit between Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids – to start,” Polehanki posted. “That’s why I joined the new Transportation Caucus. Excited to get to work!

Polehanki’s office hasn’t yet responded to additional questions about the funding source, the mode or the the timing of mass transit – whether it would be funded before or after Michigan fixes its roads ranked as worse than the national average.

In 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer campaigned on fixing the roads but voters rejected a gas tax increase of 45 center per gallon.

One report says Michigan’s county roads require about $2.4 billion of additional funding each year to fix them.

Some point to Michigan’s poor infrastructure is a factor of young people leaving the state because of road pavement quality to unreliable electricity causing frequent, long power outages, to outdated water infrastructure such as sanitary sewers, stormwater and flood control.

Also, the Wolverine State ranked in the bottom third of national rankings, including 34th in household income and 36th in K-12 education outcomes.

Michigan ranks 49th in the nation for population growth since 1990, and the state’s population has decreased since 2020.

One report estimates that 270,000 people will leave the state by 2050.

James Hohman, the director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told The Center Square many other factors other than mass transit attract young people.

“The fastest growing states are not the places offering the best transit systems,” Hohman wrote in an email. “And I don’t think that Orlando, Buffalo and Jacksonville are the fastest growing cities in America because of their transit systems.”

Whitmer says her new budget would make significant investments in road and infrastructure including $700 million in the Rebuilding Michigan Plan, $247.6 million to improve state and local roads, highways, and bridges and $150 million to support local bridge and culvert improvements and ensure the state fully matches available federal highway aid.

That total – about $1 billion – is 1.2% of her proposed 2025 budget which she said would lower household costs, including housing, transportation, healthcare, education, utilities and food.

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